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WEATHER

Wolves missing from French wildlife park after floods destroyed their enclosure

Seven black Canadian wolves were missing on Tuesday after floods destroyed their enclosure in a southern French wildlife park, the French office for biodiversity (OFB) said, warning they may starve to death if not found soon.

Wolves missing from French wildlife park after floods destroyed their enclosure
Illustration photo: AFP

The Alpha wildlife park, in the Mercantour national reserve north of the Riviera city of Nice, was left in rubble after floods hammered southeast France, killing at at least four people.

Two OFB agents and a veterinary surgeon were searching the area by helicopter after sightings of some of the wolves were reported near the park where they had been held in captivity.

The escaped wolves will not be able to survive on their own as they are used to being fed, OFB regional director Eric Hansen told AFP.

“The priority is to find them, and capture them with the help of a dart gun,” Hansen said.

Black Canadian wolves are a large sub-species of grey wolves, weighing around 80 kilograms.

The Mercantour region is home to grey wolves living in the wild, and any encounter with the Black Canadian wolves could lead to cross-breeding, Hansen said.

The body of one of the park's three polar wolves was found after its enclosure was swept away by the floods. The other two others “are probably dead, too”, Hansen said.

A third enclosure with three central European grey wolves was spared, and would become the Canadian wolves' temporary home once they were found, he said.

The Mercantour national park, created in 1979, boasts 78 species of mammals and more than 200 bird species.

It is home to some 50 Italian wolves, a protected species, which migrated there in the 1990s.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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